ira kaplan

No relic job required: Ira Kaplan digs into his worn '60s Strat—his first ever electric. "It's the one I continue to play today," he says.

Photo by Matt Condon

The dream-fuzz wizard explains why he still plays the first guitar and amp he bought as a kid.

For 30 years, Yo La Tengo has been combining fuzz guitar freak-outs and gorgeous vocal harmonies to create sweet, somnolent pop served with an arid sense of humor. While many guitarists who were part of the '90s indie-rock explosion steered clear of lengthy solos, YLT's guitarist and singer Ira Kaplan embraces them. Equally at home throwing out a flurry of notes or bending a single tone into howling feedback and holding it for measures, Kaplan draws equally from downtown NYC minimalists and such Bowery hotshots as Robert Quine.

Though Yo La Tengo has a deep, eclectic catalog of original songs, fans have come to expect a few inspired covers in every live set. Released in 1990, Fakebook contained 11 such favorites, and now—a quarter of a century later—YLT has released Stuff Like That There as its companion.

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